The last ten days or so have been hectic as our small town hosted its 21st Book Festival. Bringing in thousands of visitors each year, it means that for a while our lives are transformed. The town throbs with life – people queueing for events in the large festival marquee, the County Buildings and the smaller venues. Our days are clearly divided up into hourly events, checking tickets and general preparations for visiting speakers, authors and their audiences. Time flies – we have to remember which day it is and where we should be. But the whole place is buzzing, adrenalin flows and there is inspiration from art, music, words and conversation. Brilliant!
Now life gradually returns to normal and I’m reminded by a friend that somewhere not so many miles away there are some folk who haven’t been able to be involved, whose lives have gone on as before and their relatives will have continued to visit as always.
This poem was written a few years ago, inspired by a visit to a friend who was severely impaired after suffering from stroke. At the time I was also attending a group reading TS Eliot’s Four Quartets.
Time and the Bell
Time and the bell have buried the day
The black cloud carries the sun away. (Burnt Norton)
Silent figures sit comatose, waiting
chairs with backs to the wall.
insignificant – marked only
by meals, medicine trolleys.
Unheeded dramas play out
on a giant cyclops screen, loudly.
The clock ticks.
Lost in times of old, what can
future days, weeks, months hold?
The door bell goes, afternoon visitors
step inside leaving behind sunlight
braced for feelings of despair,
facing the long hours ahead.
Time endless …